Junior hockey: Son of ex-Wings goalie coach selected in OHL draft, U.S. in world U18 final

Detroit News

Little Caesars had the most local players selected in this weekend’s Ontario Hockey League draft, which featured the fewest amount of Michigan players taken in 10 years.

Seven of the 12 Michigan players were from the Little Caesars’ U15 state championship team, including goaltender J.J. Salajko whose father Jeff Salajko was let go as the goaltending coach of the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday along with head coach Jeff Blashill and assistant coach Doug Houda.

J.J. Salajko, a 6-foot, 170-pound native of Worthington, Ohio, had a 1.38 goals against average with a .916 save percentage with Little Caesars this year.

Jeff Salajko was in his third season as the Red Wings’ goalie coach after spending three seasons as the goaltending development coach for the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. A native of Kitchener, Ontario, he was a 10th-round pick (236th overall) of the San Jose Sharks in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft and enjoyed an eight-season professional playing career, seeing action with 11 different teams in four leagues.

Here’s the 12 local players who were selected in the two-day OHL draft:

Little Caesars (7)

►5th round, Darian Anderson, RW, Flint Generals

►8th round, Austin Baker, LW, Owen Sound Attack

►8th round, J.J. Salajko, G, Kingston Frontenacs

►9th round, John McNelis, LW, Ottawa 67’s

►11th round, Liam Storch, C, Saginaw Spirit

►13th round, Evan Sofikitis, D, Windsor Spitfires

►15th round, Lucas VavVliet, LW, Sarnia Sting

Honeybaked (2)

►7th round, Dakoda Rheaume-Mullen, G, Sarnia Sting

►9th round, Daniel Berehowsky, C, Hamilton Bulldogs

Compuware (2)

►11th round, Lukas Fischer, D, Sarnia Sting

►12th round, Cole Bartnick, Erie Otters

Belle Tire (1)

►9th round, Payton Stowe, C, Erie Otters

The 12 players tied the fewest Michigan players taken since 2012. The most players selected were 36 in 2020, when Honeybaked’s Max Namestnikov, the brother of former Red Wing Vlad Namestnikov, was taken third overall by the Sarnia Sting.

Namestnikov had 40 points in 68 games during the regular season and two points in five games in the playoffs. The Sting forced a Game 6 in Sarnia on Sunday after a 3-2 overtime win against the Windsor Spitfires at the WFCU Centre in Windsor on Saturday. The Spitfires lead the series 3-2.

Michigan players drafted in the OHL

►2022: 12

►2021: 15

►2020: 36

►2019: 32

►2018: 21

►2017: 17

►2016: 22

►2015: 22

►2014: 16

►2013: 20

►2012: 12

►2011: 19

►2010: 23

U.S. vs. Sweden in U18 final

Team U.S.A. used a five-goal second period and six unanswered to beat the Czechs 6-1 on Saturday afternoon in a semifinal of the world U18 hockey championships at Fanatec Arena in Landshut, Germany.

The U.S. will play Sweden on Sunday for the gold medal. Sweden edged Finland 2-1 on a power-play goal by Jonathan Lekkerimaki with 32 seconds left in the third period.

Jimmy Snuggerud led the Americans with two goals and Logan Cooley, the second-rated player for the 2022 NHL Draft, had two assists.

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